News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
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Governor Wolf Responds to Newtown Township's Gun Safety Resolution

On June 13, 2018, the Newtown Board of Supervisors passed a non-binding “gun safety” resolution. The resolution called for gun safety laws that would – among other things - “[Ensure] that background checks are required on all gun sales, including online and at gun shows. In Pennsylvania, preserve the provisions of the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS), which provides instant access to background records.”

In a July 17, 2018, letter to former Township Manager Kurt Ferguson, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf acknowledged receipt of the resolution and said:

"Thank you for your letter and resolution regarding gun control legislation. While improving background check laws to prevent criminals from obtaining firearms is needed, gun violence is not a singular issue. I have travelled throughout the commonwealth, listening and learning from Pennsylvanians about what they are going through and what we can do to address the safety needs of our communities. This Spring, I created the School Safety Task Force in order to address safety concerns in our educational institutions across the commonwealth that were highlighted by the tragedy in Parkland, Florida. I have also called on our leaders in the United States Congress to take steps towards banning military-style weapons and dangerous accessories like bump stocks. These are common sense laws and regulations that need to be put in place in order to ensure the safety of our children, schools, and families. All of us must take steps - community leaders, elected officials, public safety professionals - to continue to work to reduce violence. Please be assured that I will keep your suggestions in mind when reviewing legislation on this matter."

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News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents
These curated news items were selected by John Mack. Any opinions and "insights" appended to these article summaries are solely those of John Mack and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.
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Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis

Newtown Township Supervisors Vote to File Civil Lawsuit Against Drug Manufacturers Over Opioid Crisis | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Taking the lead of Bucks County and other state, county and local governments, the board of supervisors voted 4-1 to approve filing a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical industry for manufacturing, distributing and promoting opioids.

 

At the Dec. 12 meeting, Chairman Phil Calabro, joined by fellow Democrats John Mack, Linda Bobrin and Dennis Fisher voted to approve hiring the New York City-based law firm of Marc J. Bern & Partners, LLP to file the civil action in Bucks County Common Pleas Court.

 

Republican Supervisors Kyle Davis cast the dissenting vote.

 

The law firm, which specializes in national personal injury and mass tort cases, will be assisted by attorneys from Cordisco & Saile, LLC, which is based in Doylestown.

 

“Basically Newtown is making a stand in principle against these manufacturers,” exclaimed Chairman Calabro. “We’re making a statement.”

 

Newtown Township will not be charged any attorney fees for filing the action, and the law firms will work on a contingency basis which will has yet to be negotiated.

 

According to township solicitor David Sander, that fee could be as high as 50-percent of any eventual damages awarded, but is usually around 30-35 percent.

 

He explained that the suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

 

“The action is based on the current opioid crises that not only Newtown Township but the rest of the county finds itself in the grasp of,” Sander noted.

 

“Newtown should stand up and take its place among the many, many other large cities, including Pittsburgh,” he added.

 

In this area, Philadelphia, as well as Bucks and Delaware counties, have already filed separate lawsuits against the pharmaceutical companies that make and promote prescription opioid drugs.

 

Meanwhile, Bensalem Township became the first local government in the region to file a similar civil action relating to the crises. More on that here.

 

These suits allege that manufacturers misled the public about the dangers of prescription opioids and that the drug companies have disregarded their obligation to monitor distribution in the communities and halt any suspicious sales.

 

“The pharmaceutical industry lied when they said [these drugs] were not habit forming,” claimed Supervisor Mack before Newtown Township’s vote.

 

Although several supervisors acknowledged that any damages which could eventually come to Newtown Township might be minuscule, the money could be used for treatment.

 

“Whatever we get, we’ll put it to good use,” Calabro pointed out, “I don’t see a downside to this [lawsuit].”

 

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Volunteers Needed for the NEW Newtown Township Human Relations Commission

Volunteers Needed for the NEW Newtown Township Human Relations Commission | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

On November 28, 2018, Newtown Township became the FIRST Township in Bucks County to pass an Ordinance Definition prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Specifically, the ordinance, a copy of which you can download here, safeguards the right of citizens to obtain and hold employment and public accommodation and to secure housing accommodation and commercial property "without regard to actual or perceived race, color, gender, religion, ancestry, genetic information, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, familial status, marital status, age, mental or physical disability, use of guide or support animals and/or mechanical aids, and to have equal access to postsecondary educational institutions."

The Ordinance becomes effective immediately upon the appointment of a Human Relations Commission by the Newtown Board of Supervisors ( BOS Definition). The Commission will handle complaints through a fact-finding conference with the parties of the dispute in order to resolve the dispute without the need to hire lawyers or go to court.

The Commission will consist of no fewer than three and no more than five members, who will serve overlapping terms of three years each. Members must be residents of the Township or individuals who work full-time within Newtown Township. No voting member of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission can hold any office in any political party.

Members of the Newtown Township Human Relations Commission serve without salary but may be paid expenses incurred in the performance of their duties, as approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Members of the Commission must attend training and education seminars or sessions to acquaint themselves with the functioning of the Commission under the ordinance, as well as the terms, conditions and provisions of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, and the operation of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Send in Your Letter of Interest!

If you are interested in serving on the Commission, please submit a letter of interest and your resume (or short bio) by December 28, 2018. Send to Olivia Kivenko, Newtown Township, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA 18940. Or by email to oliviak@newtownpa.gov, or by fax to (215) 968-5368.

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To Protect and Shop: Bringing Holiday Joy to Kids & Cops Alike!

To Protect and Shop: Bringing Holiday Joy to Kids & Cops Alike! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

It was meant to be a shopping spree; a holiday escape from hardships.

 

But several times throughout Sunday’s Shop with a Cop event at the Target store in Middletown, reality reared its head.

 

The father of one of the children selected to take part, through referrals by area schools to buy toys with money donated by local residents and business, reluctantly asked Newtown Township police Cpl. Paul Deppi if they could pick up some diapers.

 

Another girl set her sights on blankets, wondering if she could get one for her mom and dad because the heat in the house doesn’t work well, said Deppi. Deppi said the families were “overwhelmed” with gratitude and even the shoppers enjoyed watching the kids make the rounds around the store.

 

“Some just came up to hug us,” he added. “I passed by one lady three times and each time she broke out in tears.”

 

While it was officially Newtown Township’s first time taking part, Deppi had helped out and observed the operation in Richland previously.

 

 

He knew what kind of emotional and tangible effect it had on both the kids and cops, but he still felt a sense of uncertainty from some of his younger officers when the idea was brought to them.

 

They ended up loving it, he said.

 

“Some of them were scheduled to just come by for an hour ended up staying for three hours,” Deppi said. “We got to be able to show that not only are we cops but we’re fathers and mothers and coaches and members of the community too.”

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Thank you Officer Deppi, @Newtown_Police and other local police officers who donated their time to help those in need of some cheer.

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Lower Makefield Township to Raise Taxes by 1.24 Mill - an Average of $52 per Year per Household

Lower Makefield Township to Raise Taxes by 1.24 Mill - an Average of $52 per Year per Household | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Lower Makefield is proceeding with a restructured budget officials say will “reset” township finances, after they learned there was less money in township coffers than previously projected.

 

The budget calls for a 1.24-mill tax increase, bringing the township’s total millage from 19.01 to 20.25 mills. The increase will hike the municipal tax bill for the owner of a home assessed at Lower Makefield’s average of $42,048 from $799.33 to $851.47 — an approximate $52 increase.

 

The 2019 budget lists $13 million in general fund expenditures, compared to a projected $12.7 million for 2018.

 

Each new mill brings the township about $522,304 in new revenue. The proposed 1.24-mill increase is to be divided among 0.44 mills for the township’s debt service fund, 0.28 mills for its general fund, 0.24 mills for its parks and recreation fund, 0.15 mills for its road machinery fund and 0.13 mills for its ambulance fund.

 

Supervisors added the 0.24 mills for parks and recreation to a proposed 1-mill tax increase before voting to advertise their preliminary 2019 budget at their last meeting in November. The board intends to approve the final 2019 budget at its Dec. 19 meeting.

 

Lower Makefield Manager Kurt Ferguson [previously Newtown Township Manager; read “Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson Will Take Lower Makefield Township Manager Position in July”], who joined the township in July, told supervisors in October he views the budget as a “reset,” creating positive or neutral balances in multiple funds.

 

Supervisor Dan Grenier said the auditing firm had a responsibility to accurately report the balances in the township funds and he was “incredibly disappointed” in finding out the general fund balance was different than he had been told.

 

“You need to know what your financial status is to make appropriate decisions,” he said.

 

Supervisors Chairman John Lewis said the board is not alleging any illegal or unethical activities in the crafting of previous budgets.

 

In preparing for the township’s financial future, supervisors also directed Ferguson last month to retain a new auditing firm.

 

Ferguson said since then he has enlisted Maillie LLP, a firm he described as “good to work with but tough, in that they ask lots of questions and need lots of explanation.” He said the firm likely will have the 2018 audit completed around summer 2019.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

When Ferguson was Newtown Township Manager he advocated a 2-mill tax increase. For more on that, read “Newtown Township Manager Kurt Ferguson Talks About Taxes”.

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Newtown Supervisors Approve an Ordinance That Allows Medical Marijuana Growers & Processors

Newtown Supervisors Approve an Ordinance That Allows Medical Marijuana Growers & Processors | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Faced with implementing Pennsylvania’s new medical marijuana program, the board of supervisors approved a joint zoning ordinance which would specify where dispensaries, as well as growers and processors could be located in the area.

After a brief public hearing at the Nov. 28 meeting, the board voted 4-0 to authorize the measure.

Approving the ordinance were: Chairman Phil Calabro, along with Supervisors Linda Brobrin, John Mack and Dennis Fisher. Supervisor Kyle Davis did not attend the meeting.

Because Newtown Township is part of a joint municipal zoning consortium with neighboring Upper Makefield and Wrightstown Townships, any zoning ordinances regulating the location of these cannabis operations must approved by all three municipalities, known as the ‘jointure,’ in order to take effect.

If one of the municipalities turns it down, then the matter is effectively dead.

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Summary of November 14, 2018, BOS Public Meeting

The following is a brief summary of the November 14, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting.

 

Administration

Township Manager Employment Agreement approved by 5-0 vote. [NOTE: As per the draft 2019 Budget, $116,367 is allocated for "Management Salaries" in 2019.]

 

Committee Reports

Finance Committee: Mr. Fisher reported on the Newtown Township Finance Committee. The group has been researching a possible grant from the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. There will be a presentation at the Board’s Work Session meeting on Monday, November 19, 2018.

 

Crime

October 2018 Calls report: Interim Police Chief Harris reported on the police activity for October: Calls for service: 1,549 total calls, 328 (21%) of which were in Wrightstown Township.

 

Development

Arcadia Green/Newtown Holdings LLC, Tentative Plan Application Denied in a 5-0 vote.

 

Prepared Statement by Supervisor Mack

"After listening to all the testimony, reading the reports of experts, and listening to residents of surrounding communities, I will vote to deny the current Arcadia PRD Definition because I think it would be unsafe for residents of that development – should it go forward – to exit and enter the development. Also, let’s not forget the additional traffic it would bring to the intersection of Buck Road and the Bypass. Lastly, the plan for a U-turn to allow access to the Bypass is totally impractical, unsafe, and will cause major delays in my opinion, which seems to also be the opinion of PennDOT and other experts."

 

Fiscal Responsibility

2019 Draft Budget: Vote to authorize the advertisement for adoption of the 2019 preliminary budget passed 5-0.

 

Public Safety

Newtown Ambulance Squad: Chief Evan Resnikoff, Newtown Ambulance Squad, informed the Board as of September first, NAS no longer cover Northampton Township and will see a “significant decrease” in its subscription drive revenue.

 

More details here.

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Newtown Becomes the FIRST Township in Bucks County to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Protects the Rights of the LGBTQ Community

Newtown Becomes the FIRST Township in Bucks County to Pass an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Protects the Rights of the LGBTQ Community | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Supervisors approved an ordinance Wednesday evening establishing a new Human Relations commission, which can review and answer complaints from residents alleging discrimination based on “actual or perceived” qualities not covered under federal or state law.

 

Newtown Township has joined Yardley and Hatboro in establishing anti-discrimination protections for its residents this year.

 

The board voted 4-0, with Supervisor Kyle Davis absent, to approve an ordinance forming a three- to five-member Human Relations commission, tasked with reviewing complaints from residents alleging discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations or access to educational institutions.

 

The measure is intended to safeguard against unequal treatment based on an individual’s “actual or perceived” race, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.

 

After receiving a complaint, the commission can facilitate fact-finding conferences with parties in a dispute, conduct investigations and potentially hold public hearings where the parties can provide testimony. Members could then decide whether to issue a cease-and-desist order or take “additional action” as deemed appropriate.

 

Supervisor John Mack first floated the idea for the ordinance in July, and in September, the board heard a presentation from Yardley Councilman David Bria, who led the charge on Yardley’s anti-discrimination ordinance earlier this year.

 

Sexual orientation and gender identity are not spelled out as protected under federal or state law, leaving appellate courts in various districts to decide differently as to whether any protections exist at all, Bria said.

 

With supervisors’ approval Wednesday evening, Newtown Township has become Bucks County’s first township to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance. Between 2002 and 2013, officials approved similar ordinances in New Hope, Doylestown Borough, Newtown Borough and Bristol Borough, with Yardley and Hatboro joining in in March and May, respectively. All are boroughs compared to a township.

 

Newtown Township’s vote also expands the number of county residents living in municipalities with anti-discrimination protections in place, on account of its size compared to the six boroughs.

 

Before Wednesday evening, 32,676 residents of those boroughs, or 5.2 percent of Bucks County’s 625,249 residents, lived in protected municipalities. Now, factoring in Newtown Township’s 19,299 residents, 51,975 residents, or 8.3 percent, are covered, according to census data.

 

Related:

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Ever since I first interviewed David Bria in December, 2017 (https://www.johnmacknewtown.info/briapodcast1.html), it was my goal and my promise to Dave to bring this before the Newtown Township Board of Supervisors. I thank my fellow Supervisors for diligently doing their research on this issue and crafting this ordinance. The next step is to get volunteers to serve on the Human Relations Commission established by the ordinance. Only when this commission is formed will this ordinance come into effect. Stay tuned.

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Melt, a Grilled Cheese Store, To Open Newtown? Supervisors Will Decide Tonight

Melt, a Grilled Cheese Store, To Open Newtown? Supervisors Will Decide Tonight | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Melt, a New York-based grilled cheese chain, is looking to open a location in Newtown.

 

The Newtown Township Board of Supervisors will be reviewing Melt's conditional use application at a meeting tonight, Wednesday, Nov. 28. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at 100 Municipal Drive.

 

Melt has an existing store at the King of Prussia Mall, as well as locations in New York, New Jersey, Delaware and at the Mall of America in Minnesota.

 

The menus vary by location, but all include an array of savory sandwiches with creative combinations. Dishes on the menu at the King of Prussia location include chicken melts, burger melts, maple bacon grilled cheeses, salads, milkshakes, and house-made chicken tenders.

 

An opening timeline has not yet been set

johnmacknewtown's insight:

I don't think there will be any free samples :(

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Newtown Supervisors to Vote on Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Newtown Supervisors to Vote on Anti-Discrimination Ordinance | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The Newtown Board of Supervisors (BOS) is scheduled to vote on an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance at the November 28, 2018, BOS public meeting.

 

Currently, there is no federal law that explicitly prohibits workplace discrimination based upon sexual orientation. Twenty (20) states plus Washington D.C. currently have laws which prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Pennsylvania law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and is therefore the only state in the northeastern U.S. not to do so.

 

If Newtown Township were to adopt this ordinance, it would nearly double the number of individuals in Bucks County living in a municipality that prohibits LGBTQ - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning - discrimination.

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Three New JMZO Ordinances Up for a Vote by Newtown Supervisors

Three New JMZO Ordinances Up for a Vote by Newtown Supervisors | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Three New JMZO Ordinances Up for a Vote by Newtown Supervisors at the November 28, 2018, Public Meeting

 

JMZO Ordinance 2017-02 concerns Medical Marijuana Dispensaries and Growers/Processors.

 

JMZO Ordinance 2018-01 concerns the sales and use of consumer fireworks.

 

JMZO Ordinance 2018-02 concerns uses in Wrightstown for a micro-brewery, tasting room, “conservation” special events, art gallery, and community theater.

 

THIS WILL BE YOUR LAST CHANCE to go on the record with your comments regarding these ordinances. The meeting will begin at 7:00 pm at the Pubic Meeting Room at the Municipal Center, 100 Municipal Drive, Newtown, PA.

 

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Northampton Resolution is a Setback for Newtown Ambulance

Northampton Resolution is a Setback for Newtown Ambulance | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

At the November 14, 2018, Newtown Board of Supervisors meeting, Evan Resnikoff, Chief of Operations of the Newtown Ambulance Squad (NAS), Evan Resnikoff, Chief of Newtown Ambulance, made a pitch for subscriptions (view video here).

 

In his comments, Resnikoff mentioned that as of September 1, 2018, NAS is no longer the primary provider of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the East Holland section of Northampton Township after nearly 50 years of providing that service. This was the result of a 3-0 vote in August, 2018, by the Northampton supervisors to support Resolution Definition #2018-R-14 authorizing the Tri-Hampton Rescue Squad to be the primary provider of emergency medical and rescue services within the boundaries of Northampton Township.

 

Chief Resnikoff warned that this change could result in longer response times in the eastern end of Northampton Township, potentially putting lives at risk and opening the township to potential litigation. In addition, Chief Resnikoff noted that Newtown Ambulance stands to lose $16,000 in subscription drive revenue and $93,000 in NET billing revenue, or about 40 dispatched calls per month, of which 71% are billable calls.

 

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Third time not the charm for Arcadia Green development in Newtown Township

Third time not the charm for Arcadia Green development in Newtown Township | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Township supervisors rejected the third iteration of Arcadia at Newtown Holdings’ proposal for 76 residences at the intersection of Buck Road and the Newtown Bypass.

A Philadelphia-based developer’s third attempt to develop homes on a Newtown Township tract has fallen short.

Township supervisors voted unanimously Wednesday evening to deny Arcadia at Newtown Holdings’ proposal for a walkable 76-residence community, with 23 single-family detached homes and 53 townhomes on 21.47 acres off the intersection of Buck Road and the Newtown Bypass.

Though Wednesday’s meeting did not attract much turnout, larger numbers of residents, including those living in the Newtown Crossing and Eagle Ridge communities near the proposed Arcadia Green site, spoke out against the project at four public hearings since August. Some suggested the township move to preserve the land, sometimes known as the Wynmere/Karr tract, as open space.

Arcadia made adjustments to its proposed development from its last submission in attempts to address concerns at the time, like abandoning plans to demolish a nearby home to incorporate a one-way exit road from the community.

But new plan features also received a frosty reception, including a proposed traffic improvement to allow cars, but not buses or large trucks, access to the bypass via left U-turns at nearby Mill Pond Road.

Supervisor John Mack said in a statement before voting that, after reviewing experts’ testimony and reports on Arcadia Green and listening to nearby residents, he believed the development would be unsafe for residents driving in and out.

In addition, Mack said, the proposed U-turn was “totally impractical” and could cause major traffic delays.

Listen to my comments here.

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Does Newtown Need a Mobile-Enabled Emergency Notification System? Take This Short Survey.

Does Newtown Need a Mobile-Enabled Emergency Notification System? Take This Short Survey. | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Recently, there have been several emergency or near emergency situations in Newtown Township. On March 7, 2018, during a snow emergency power failure, the Township Building was open as a “warming center,” but before any township residents were made aware of this, power was restored; on October 5, 2018, the Bucks County Community College was locked down due to a supposed terrorist threat, but residents did not get immediate alerts sent to their cell phones; on October 24, 2018, Swamp Road and Route 413 experienced significant traffic delays due to an accident, but many residents were unaware of the problem.

 

The list goes on. And although the Newtown Police Department and/or the Township Manager were able to post information about some of these events on Twitter and Facebook or via email homeowner association management companies, these notices reached a limited number of residents, reached them too late, or never reached them at all.

 

Would you opt-in to receive Emergency Alerts, Advisories (less urgent need-to-know information), Community Information (day-to-day neighborhood to community-level information), Traffic (very localized traffic information), etc., via mobile phone, email or hard line phone?

 

TAKE THIS SHORT SURVEY!

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Water Damage from Bad Construction Destroys Homes and Dreams and PA is the "Epicenter" of the Epidemic

Water Damage from Bad Construction Destroys Homes and Dreams and PA is the "Epicenter" of the Epidemic | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Experts have labeled Pennsylvania the epicenter of an industrywide epidemic that has affected sprawling suburban houses, starter homes, and luxury Philadelphia townhouses alike. Properties constructed with materials other than stucco had problems, too. Some houses with water damage were built by billion-dollar public companies. Others, by small, local firms. Some are 10 or 20 years old. Others are brand-new.

 

Toll [Brothers, “America’s Luxury Home Builder”] declined to say how many water-intrusion claims it has received in Southeastern Pennsylvania in the last few years.

 

Even as builders have combated claims, nearly two dozen homeowners said that they were never notified of any potential problem — even as some building executives knew of its extent. Toll’s vice president of construction, Anthony Geonnotti, for example, testified in 2017 that, within slightly more than two years, he had inspected 300 to 350 homes in the region for water intrusion — with roughly 85 percent needing repairs, according to an arbitration hearing transcript filed in court.

 

But arbitration testimony for the Mulnix case offers some clues. Geonnotti, vice president of construction at Toll, testified in October 2017 that one subcontractor for Toll had remediated "around a hundred" homes, including those in Buckingham Forest, Upper Mountain Estates, Overlook at Newtown, Plumstead Chase, Highlands at Chapman’s Corner, and Regency at Northampton — all developments built since the early 2000s in Bucks County.

 

The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office in 2016 filed a lawsuit against the David Cutler Group, based in Montgomery County, and launched a “review” into Toll this spring, financial filings show. According to a spokesperson, the Attorney General’s Office has received about 200 complaints from homeowners about water intrusion in the last five years. She declined to name specific builders or comment further.

 

In addition, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated Toll and had requested information about the company’s estimated costs to repair water-intrusion claims — which, as of September filings, was around $324 million. Neither Toll nor the SEC would comment on the status of the investigation.

johnmacknewtown's insight:

Toll Brothers wants to build in Newtown. Read  “Toll Brothers Twining Bridge Road Proposal”.

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Glossary of Municipal Terms

Glossary of Municipal Terms | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

MS4, PRD, LST, EIT, SALDO, Liquid Fuels Program, Impervious Surface, Sketch Plan, Conditional Use, Spot-Zoning, etc. These are just some of the acronyms and terms a Newtown Township Supervisor Definition has to learn to do his or her job.

Perhaps more importantly, township residents must understand these terms if they are expected to participate in local government.

To that end, I have put together a Glossary of Municipal Terms on my website (here).

This is my personal glossary of terms that I believe are relevant to Newtown residents. Hopefully, it will help residents when they read the minutes of meetings or watch Board of Supervisors meetings on Cable TV.

This Glossary is more than a simple list of terms and definitions. It also includes links to related information and resources on this and other websites such as news summaries, blog posts, videos, podcasts, newsletter articles, etc. Therefore, it can also be used as an index to information on this site.

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Yardley's "Bully" Council Member Mike Ruttle's Statements Spur Adoption of "Safe Council" Resolution Against Bullying

Under the non-binding “safe council meeting” resolution approved Wednesday evening, any council member can request an officer’s presence during executive sessions if they believe they fear for their safety. Councilwoman Sandi Brady introduced the motion, a little over a month after decrying alleged bullying from Councilman Mike Ruttle in a public statement (for more on that, read “Yardley Borough Councilwoman Cites "Pervasive Bullying Mentality" on Council”).

 

Yardley council now allows its members to request a borough police officer attend closed-door executive sessions, following what multiple officials have described as repeated problematic behavior from Councilman Mike Ruttle.

 

The remaining six council members unanimously approved the “safe council meeting” resolution Wednesday night. The non-binding motion states “council desires to provide a safe and bully-free environment” and that council can authorize the required expenditures for an officer to attend council, executive or committee meetings at any member’s request.

 

Borough police Chief Joseph Kelly, who already attends council meetings, said he most likely would be the officer to attend executive sessions if asked, and would do so for free.

 

Councilwoman Sandi Brady introduced the resolution, after bringing attention to what she described as a “pervasive bullying mentality” stemming from Ruttle in a public statement Oct. 2.

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1st Annual Shop With A Cop: Sunday December 2, 2018 at the Target Store 2331 E. Lincoln Hwy, Langhorne, PA  19047

1st Annual Shop With A Cop: Sunday December 2, 2018 at the Target Store 2331 E. Lincoln Hwy, Langhorne, PA  19047 | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Shop with a Cop is a national program pairing police officers with children to afford them a better holiday season.  The program allows children to view police officers in a different atmosphere and promote positive relationships. The program’s participants are elementary students from the Council Rock School District and St. Andrews Elementary School.  These children face life challenges such as a parent losing a job, homelessness, military deployment, economic shortcomings, and other hardships.

The Shop with a Cop program is funded solely through the generosity of our local community’s residents and businesses. Each child is allotted a $150.00 gift card to purchase gifts for themselves and their family members.  Volunteers from the community assist with gift wrapping, hosting, and registration.  The Newtown Township, Newtown Borough and Upper Makefield Township police officers volunteer their own time to support the program.

Our event will be on Sunday December 2, 2018 at the Target Store 2331 E. Lincoln Hwy, Langhorne, PA  19047.  Times will be scheduled to accommodate the kids and officers. This is our first Shop with a Cop event. We will be working with Middletown Township Police to assist us.

Much thanks to Target for hosting the program and providing supplies.  A special thanks to all of our wonderful volunteers and the Council Rock School District for supporting this program. 

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Newtown Borough Votes to Engage in "Friendly" Eminent Domain Discussions to Acquire Unspecified Land for Open Space

Newtown Borough Votes to Engage in "Friendly" Eminent Domain Discussions to Acquire Unspecified Land for Open Space | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

The borough council on November 7 voted unanimously to authorize its solicitor to engage in “friendly discussions” regarding the possible acquisition of a borough property through eminent domain.

Council also voted to form a special committee to discuss the timing of various actions in connection with the possible acquisition.

And they named councilors Julia Woldorf, Bob King and Tara Grunde-McLaughlin to represent the council on the Committee.

Council did not publicly say what property is under consideration nor did it provide any details regarding the potential acquisition. They did indicate the property would be preserved as open space if the land is acquired.

Eminent domain is a tool municipalities can use to acquire land either through a friendly or forced condemnation for public purpose like preservation of open space or construction of a public works project, including bridges, highways, roads or similar structures.

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Bensalem Residents Approve a 1 Mill Tax Increase For Volunteer Fire Companies

Bensalem Residents Approve a 1 Mill Tax Increase For Volunteer Fire Companies | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Fire companies in Bensalem will be getting a financial boost after voters on Tuesday approved a tax increase to benefit them.

 

The referendum, which called for a one-mill property tax hike to benefit the six companies, was approved by voters on Tuesday, 9,189 to 6,991.

 

The question read: "Shall the Township Council of the Township of Bensalem be authorized to increase the real property tax for the operation and maintenance of the volunteer fire companies serving the Township by an additional one (1) mill?"

 

In Bensalem, the average property's assessed value for tax purposes is $23,600. That would amount to a $23.60 annual increase in property taxes, officials say. The township's council approved putting the question to voters earlier this year.

 

[What about EMS? View this video - “Evan Resnikoff Speaks About EMS Crisis”]

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Construction Begins on Falls Wawa Even As Law Suit Continues to "SLAPP" Residents Who Opposed It

Construction Begins on Falls Wawa Even As Law Suit Continues to "SLAPP" Residents Who Opposed It | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Work on the Wawa near the Falls-Morrisville municipal border was scheduled to start Monday, weather permitting, a construction company representative confirmed. Developer Morrisville Commons received construction permits from the township in early October, after a zoning appeal that previously had held up the project was withdrawn in early August.

 

Still ongoing is an $11 million lawsuit the Wawa developer filed in October 2015 against some local business owners and residents who opposed a previous plan for the Wawa, a Rite Aid and restaurant at public meetings (read “Falls Wawa Developer Wins Case Brought by Local Service Station But “SLAPPs” a Lawsuit Against Residents Who Spoke Up at Public Meeting”). Those opponents are accused of delaying the township’s approval of that plan and costing the developer rental income from the businesses.

 

In the latest case motion, dated Friday, the Giant Plaza owner’s attorney repeated arguments that the lawsuit was “intended to strong-arm (the owner) into foregoing their participation” in public meetings, and as such was filed in “bad faith and for an improper motive.”

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What's Next for Ordinance Amendment to Allow Wawa on Newtown Bypass?... It's Complicated!

What's Next for Ordinance Amendment to Allow Wawa on Newtown Bypass?... It's Complicated! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Newtown Solicitor Dave Sander explains the possible next steps in the text amendment to the OR zoning JMZO ordinance that would allow a Wawa on the Bypass at Lower Silver Lake Road.

 

I also include a "flow chart" in an attempt to visualize the steps involved. The timeline could extend to many months, possibly beyond the 2019 elections!

 

See here for the video and more details.

 

 

johnmacknewtown's insight:

BTW, I tried - unsuccessfully - to get the draft amendment into the public domain, but Mr. Sander insisted on following the letter of the Right-to-Know law, whereas if the Board wished, that document could be made public. I agree, however, that sometimes it is best to keep draft documents under wraps until they become final. It's a moot point in this case, because the Planning Commission went through each item in the draft at its Oct 16, 2018, public meeting, which I summarized here.

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johnmacknewtown's curator insight, October 30, 9:17 AM

I tried - unsuccessfully - to get the draft amendment into the public domain, but Mr. Sander insisted on following the letter of the Right-to-Know law, whereas if the Board wished, that document could be made public. I agree, however, that sometimes it is best to keep draft documents under wraps until they become final. It's a moot point in this case, because the Planning Commission went through each item in the draft at its Oct 16, 2018, public meeting, which I summarized here.

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$1.6 Million Available for Traffic Improvements BUT It Can't Be Spent!

$1.6 Million Available for Traffic Improvements BUT It Can't Be Spent! | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Whenever new residential or business developments are proposed for Newtown, the impact on traffic is a major concern of residents (read, for example, “Newtown Board of Supervisors Shoots Down Drive-thru Starbucks” and “Super Wawa Survey Comments” and “Arcadia Green Development Hearings”).

In order to mitigate these concerns, the township collects traffic impact fees from developers to make capital improvements to accommodate traffic generated by new development. Eligible improvements include adjustments to existing traffic signals, new traffic signals, auxiliary turn lanes, etc.

Currently, Newtown has accumulated approximately $1.6 million in traffic impact fees but is unable to use those funds because it lacks an updated capital improvements plan, which is necessary for the use of those funds.

So, how can these funds be unleashed? Find out here...

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Newtown Supervisors Promote Micah Lewis to Township Manager

Newtown Supervisors Promote Micah Lewis to Township Manager | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

Having served as interim-manager since mid-July, assistant township manager Micah Lewis was officially appointed township manager at the Oct. 24 supervisors’ meeting in a unanimous vote.

 

He replaces Kurt Ferguson, who left in July after six years to take the township manager’s job in neighboring Lower Makefield under a two-year contract.

 

In nominating Lewis for the position, Chairman Phil Calabro praised him for doing a “great job.”

 

“I thank the board for your confidence and look forward to working with the staff here,” Lewis responded.

 

“It’s a different life in the barrel of the shotgun” he joked about his promotion. “I enjoyed it up to this point.”

 

Voting for the appointment were: Calabro, along with Supervisors Linda Bobrin and John Mack, Dennis fisher and Kyle Davis.

 

Township solicitor David Sander is currently drafting an employment contract for Lewis for approval by both parties.

 

In the 2019 proposed budget, the township manager’s salary is set at $115,000 a year.

 

Lewis was working at the Doylestown-based engineering firm Boucher & James, Inc. when he was hired as Newtown’s full-time assistant township manager in February 2015.

 

He had been brought on to handle planning and development, as well overseeing parks and recreation matters and improving the township’s technology.

 

Meanwhile, Ferguson has been retained as a consultant to Newtown Township at $75 an hour and has helped Lewis prepare the proposed $14.34-million 2019 general fund operating budget for the fiscal year beginning Jan. 1.

 

At this time, the no-tax increase package calls for hiring an additional police officer, three new police cars and other capital purchases, including several new public works vehicles to replace aging ones.

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Craft Beer Brewery, Food Trucks and Fun Coming to Newtown Commons This Summer

Craft Beer Brewery, Food Trucks and Fun Coming to Newtown Commons This Summer | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

A new craft brewery is opening in Bucks County. The Newtown Brewing Company will be setting up in Newtown Township, and anticipates a summer 2019 opening, the owner confirmed to Patch.

 

Gregg Bonstein, Newtown Brewing Company owner, said the business has received full approval from Newtown Township to move forward on its plans for a brewery in the Newtown Business Commons (read “Summary of August 22, 2018, BOS Public Meeting” - includes video of comments from the Planning Commission chair).

 

Newtown Brewing Company will be located at 103 Penns Trail, and will share a 10,000-square-foot building with Sir Speedy. The brewery will have about 4,600 square-feet of space, with half of it dedicated to brewing, manufacturing, and warehouse uses, with the other half as a taproom open to the public, according to Bonstein.

 

Renovations to the building will begin in mid to late November, with a summer opening anticipated, said Bonstein.

 

The taproom will be open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, with the following hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

Bonstein anticipates having 10 beers on tap, with a rotating schedule of lagers, IPAs, Belgians, wheat beers, stouts, pale ales, and some "fun experimental stuff." For those who prefer an alternative to beer, there will be cider, wines and spirits.

 

Bonstein said he has plans for a rotating food truck schedule, as well as other fun events like live music, trivia, movie nights and more. The space will also be available for private party bookings.

 

"Our plan is for the taproom area to a fun relaxed environment with close ties to the Newtown community," he said.

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Trends in Newtown’s “Volatile” Earned Income and Property Transfer Taxes

Trends in Newtown’s “Volatile” Earned Income and Property Transfer Taxes | News of Interest to Newtown Area Residents | Scoop.it

In this post, I focus on Earned Income Tax and Real Estate Transfer Tax, which are “volatile” in the sense that they depend on the state of the economy and the actions of neighboring townships that are beyond the control of Newtown planners.

 

Read it here...

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Curated by johnmacknewtown
I am a retired small businessman who has lived in Newtown Township PA since 1995. The opinions expressed here are solely mine and do not represent the opinions of any other person or entity.